ST1.7: STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
Self Assessment Score: 3
Alice Drive Elementary teachers genuinely work well together. Our strength for this indicator is the communication and collaboration our teachers share. Our grade levels meet frequently, talk daily, share lessons and ideas, and some even get together outside of school. This helps create our cohesive family community and overall positive climate. As we have become more inquiry based, we are putting together units as grade levels. Unfortunately, we only have one unit per grade level so far. Teachers met last summer for the first time to create the units and our goal is to create more and more of them to implement in the classrooms.
Wednesday Schedules and Common Planning
Our Wednesdays are set aside for professional development. We use the first Wednesday of each month for grade level planning. During this time all grade levels meet and plan together to implement the Engineering Design Process Standards and the 5 C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and community. They share and collaborate on ideas in order to maintain a rigorous and relevant curriculum for our students. Unfortunately, our weakness for this indicator is the fact that our Related Arts educators cannot take part in these professional development times because they are all teaching. We realize this is an issue and we are working on a plan to rectify this problem. The second Wednesday of each month is designed around a book study that focuses mainly on one or more of the 5 C’s. The first book study is from Peter Johnston’s book, Choice Words, How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning. We read and communicate our thoughts and ideas about the reading during these sessions. The third Wednesday is used for professional development on what we feel, as a school, we need to improve upon. This year’s focus is Guided Math and Writer’s Workshop. The fourth Wednesday of each month is for committee meetings or any other meetings that may need to be held during this time. We believe that we are all constantly learning, and professional development Wednesdays help us to grow in our learning together. Our teachers work together to design STEAM lessons and activities for our students. Each grade level shares a common planning time to allow for collaboration among teachers throughout the school year. Teachers have access to many resources including a full-time instructional coach and literacy coach, a district technology coach, district Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and STEAM professionals. Common planning also provides more time for professional development for our teachers. Teachers are part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) which meets twice monthly during planning times to assist with STEAM curriculum and technology. These PLCs are facilitated by our district office staff.
Unit Planning/Pull-Back Planning
As part of our plan to become a STEAM accredited school we looked closely at our curriculum requirements and have found that we needed more time to sit together as a grade level and just focus on unit planning. We met during the summer and worked on mapping out the units which we are currently working on in Math and Social Studies. Each grade level selected one topic and began creating a unit designed around the Engineering Design Process and found the connections made in other disciplines. This one outline will become the basis for planning the unit of study and help us to shift our thinking to teaching scientists, mathematicians, readers, writers and historians rather that teaching a subject. We used the template in the book, Learning is For Real by Heidi Mills to guide this process. The following links will take you to a chart that shows what our units of study are throughout the year, and examples of a first grade and fourth grade unit plan.
Student Learning Objectives
Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) are required by our state. The South Carolina Department of Education states, “Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) are a tool for actionable reflection used in teacher evaluation systems as a student growth measure. SLOs are monitored over the duration of time the students are with the teacher for instruction, which may be a full academic year, a semester, or quarter (depending on the context in which the teacher leads instruction).” At Alice Drive Elementary, teachers are required to have at least one of their goals as reading, writing, and math. Our teachers use MAP data, Reading Assessment Data, and pre and post tests to monitor and adjust SLOs during the time frame. Last year, we monitored goals over the entire year. This year we will be monitoring our goals over a semester. Our principal meets with each teacher three times a year to analyze their data, discuss student growth and track their goals. Next year teachers will add a STEAM goal as another way to monitor and track our STEAM progress.
This year we have incorporated a collaboration board for teachers to share the topics being discussed currently in their classrooms. Our goal is to provide a visual display that highlights key topics of study throughout the year so that in our building we can all work cohesively together. Our Related Arts were included as well so that they can supplement the instruction going on in the classroom during their Related Arts. We placed it in one of our work rooms because it is frequently visited by all staff members.